Any rock stars, Royals, Sheiks or heiresses out there ready to set fire to some serious USD a night at a private resort? Read on because there is a place so fantastic in Bali, a millionaire’s nirvana, so luxurious yet still so earthy that I can’t imagine existing anywhere else in the world.
When I was first invited by some friends to stay with them at Permata Ayung Private Estate, I had little to no details other than the names of celebrities rumored to have stayed. I had checked out the site on the internet and found some nice pictures and very little information. As we drove towards Ubud, I wondered what would make a certain rumored celebrity a repeat visitor, when they own their own private island, which can’t be too bad going. I was told we were going to some villas where villas couldn’t be rented out individually but only the whole property. I was told that the villas weren’t open to bookings by the public. Sounds exclusive, I thought. We went henceforth, in search of the mysterious Permata Ayung. So exclusive and mysterious, apparently the entrance isn’t marked with a sign to the property. I had heard of places like this…
I’ve visited some of the most stunning properties in the Ubud area, each one more beautiful than the last. But I don’t think any previous luxury hotel experience could have prepared me for what was on the other side of those doors. We are escorted through to a sitting area in a large open aired Javanese Antique joglo house and presented with a glass of champagne served on a silver platter, very classy. We do introductions and give compliments about the view of rice paddies across the valley and the Joglo houses scattered across the property. Actually let's make that Estate. Luca agrees it’s very a special Estate.
Luca is the Belgian right-hand man of the Dutch owner, business man Mr de Vries. Luca is short in stature but has a huge presence that resounds throughout the property. I suppose if Mr de Vries is the soul of the property, Luca is the life. He is a true professional, at what exactly I’m not certain, he’s a man of many layers and his role at the Estate is varied. Mysterious until he breaks his cool as ice persona with an outrageous anecdote that has you hanging onto his every word. He asks us if we would like to see some rooms.
Already impressed and slightly drunk from the bottom-less glass of Moët but still unaware of quite how much my mind was about to be blown, we are taken on a tour of the property. There was a certain moment when we walked into one of the rooms that I realised just what kind of a place we were looking down the line at spending the weekend at. Starting with the less flashy rooms, Luca says. The rooms are probably the most amazing I’ve seen. Bath tubs carved out of ancient boulders, antique clocks, artwork from the earliest Dutch artists that settled in Bali, the most naturally beautiful antique wooden furniture including the majestic beds that are much too nice and large to be enjoyed alone. Dozens of roses decorate the rooms and there is something so warm and exotic about the wood finishings that it makes you feel like you might drift into some kind of highly relaxing trance.
We’re shown to a swanky looking buggy, imported from Europe. We descend the valley down a tidy little pathway through virgin Ubud jungle. There is a rope bridge that crosses the river to the cascading rice fields that are of course owned by Mr de Vries too. In fact he bought the rice fields on the other side of the valley to ensure the natural beauty of the property wouldn’t ever be compromised, then gave the land back to the village so that they could continue harvesting. Dotted through the fields are small, or perhaps just smaller antique huts. We’re told that’s where high profile guests house their own security team. However the property is already surrounded by ninja security people, none of which ever made themselves seen.
We’re shown a riverside two-story joglo, very serene and very private. Joglo houses already have a way of making you feel close to nature, even without being located riverside and inside of a jungle covered valley. This suite is even more luxurious than the rooms outside of the valley. We drive past a large aviary housing 2 peacocks and white pigeons and then we are shown the spa, with a massage pod literally suspended above the river. You actually get in the pod from the side of the river and are then suspended directly above the river using pulleys. There is a manicure and pedicure area, steam and sauna room, all so close to nature but not at all rustic. Next comes the climax of the tour, The Bridal Suite.
I don’t think I’m even going to attempt a description because no words I choose will do justice to the straight up glamour, romance and luxury of the Bridal Suite. You’ll find a few photos here so I will leave it up to your imagination. We are escorted to our rooms on buggies where there is a mini bar stocked with champagne, wines and an abundance of snacks to suit every taste. After a quick room party in the Bridal Suite, an eight course meal awaits. Every course more delicious than meals from some of the top restaurants on the outside. After dinner we proceed to a sort of open-air smoking room that hangs over the river where I can imagine gentlemen mingling over fine whisky. I’m certain millions of dollars have been shaken on in this very spot. When you take the stairs down you find a long corridor fitting for a Las Vegas night club that takes you to your own private fully stocked bar and cinema. There is a wall in the bar lined with photos of Permata Ayung Estate’s famous alumni. Sorry, I’ve promised my discretion. Let’s just say we got into the rock star spirit that night.
Hangovers are manageable when you have intuitive butlers, fresh juices and quite a large gourmet brunch awaiting you. Not to mention an infinity pool with ‘THE’ view and 2 refreshing hours at the spa to look forward to. After my massage, I had drifted off and I awoke to find the therapist had let me continue my riverside slumber. The rest of the day was passed napping, grazing, swimming, walking barefoot by the river and bathing in natural springs. It was a day like no other I had ever experienced in Bali. Or anywhere. Dinner was the perfect end to an already magical day, we enjoyed a beautiful Indonesian feast set up for us on the side of the river where we drank red wine and chatted about the sheer brilliance of the place.
On the final morning of our two-night stay I took a walk around the property once more. Down the steps of the valley to the riverside, across the rope bridge and towards the rice fields. Back up the valley to the central estate. I sat in the expansive organic vegetable garden and contemplated the conscience they bring to their kitchen. I observed the antique structures that make up the property and the beauty of each piece of furniture that fills them. How can somewhere so luxurious and so expensive still be so soulful? This is when I realise that it is love that makes Permata Ayung Estate so magical. Owner Mr de Vires and Luca’s love can be seen in the details, the philosophy, the Indonesian influence and dedication to co-existing with this beautiful piece of Bali without tainting it’s natural magic.
As we pack we stall for time because for one, there is no check out time at a place like that, but we also know once we’re out of those gates that there’s no going back. We slowly pack our cars, thank Luca and the team profusely, shamefully handing over a tip for the staff which is probably a pittance on what the more high profile guests leave. As we drive out and the gates close behind us I can only wonder if I will ever visit anywhere like that again.
All photographs are by Dieter Lotze and Arshad Rizvi. For more info on the Permata Ayung Privat Estate experience go to http://permataayung.com
Written by our Account Manager, Rosie whom was lucky enough to be a guest at Permata Ayung.